Wednesday, July 09, 2008

emergency contact

I was sitting on the A-train the other evening, heading home after a wonderful weekend visiting friends out on Long Island, listening to Doug Martsch croon about the weather ("and the wind and snow and the rain that blows, none of those would matter much without you; as long as it's talking with you, talk of the weather will do...").

I'm not sure what got me to thinking about phone numbers, but it occurred to me that in the two years I had a cell phone on Chris's plan, I couldn't for the life of me ever seem to remember the number. Though in all honesty, there are few phone numbers I can remember. My Lake Mohegan childhood number (914-528-4466), my old and now defunct land-line here in the Heights (917-521-2052), my current number.

And then it suddenly struck me that I couldn't remember Chris's cell phone number. Or rather, I should say, I realized that I had finally, finally forgotten Chris's cell phone number. And a weight lifted, somehow, and something opened up -- a sense of relief, a sense of floating, of escaping, of at last letting something go.

And then my ever annoying brain started tweaking and tugging and pulling, phantom fingers pushing tiny buttons, remembering patterns, and inevitably, much to my consternation, the number came back. And I was frustrated, so frustrated that even after all this time, after a year of not dialing that number, my fingers, my brain, couldn't truly seem to forget it.

And then I realized I was kidding myself, that in fact it had been quite a bit less than a year, that in the midst of walking around the night after I put my cat, my Nova, to sleep back in January, these preprogrammed fingers of mine pushed those buttons, as if there were no other possible buttons to push.

In my defense, even in that undeniable moment of weakness, standing in the sleet under a streetlight on Central Park West, these fingers managed to hit 'end' before worse happened, before voices could be recognized, before words could be exchanged.

Now, as I am writing this, I am wondering, trying to remember, if I ever got around to replacing Chris's cell phone number as my emergency contact at Columbia's central Human Resources office. I'm not entirely sure that I did.

I'd better not get run over by a campus catering cart or hit on the head by a piece of falling cornice while crossing College Walk on my way to the office tomorrow morning.

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